In every corner of the globe, bread is essential to people’s daily diet. Everyone has their favourite way of eating bread, from chapatti to naan, focaccia to bloomer, baguette to tortilla. It’s such a staple that we often take for granted the hard work that goes into producing it from field to fork. The Sheffield Wheat Experiment hopes to change that here in Sheffield with a locally grown wheat crop that will make local bread for the Sheffield people. In the third year of this experiment, they celebrate their work in the soil with a community event all about bread!
The Sheffield Wheat Experiment
The Sheffield Wheat Experiment (SWE) is the project behind around 250 micro wheat plots popping up all over the city to grow a unique grain collectively. It’s a particular strain of wheat that will adapt over time to become a wheat of and for Sheffield. Now in the third year of cultivating this distributed wheat field, the project is going from strength to strength, and it’s more than just what ends up on your plate.
The project has been interesting for those involved in rediscovering our connection to the land and the growing cycle of our most staple ingredient. Through talks and articles, they have explored how industrial agriculture and mainstream grains have fundamentally shaped what and how we eat. This highlights how bringing our attention back to older forms of wheat, like the one they are growing here in Sheffield, can shape the community. It gives agency back to growers, benefits the environment and teaches us how our food systems might need to adapt to a changing climate. It has also helped local people re-learn heritage hand harvesting and processing techniques.
But now they are turning their attention to the food product that this all leads up to, wheat flour, and to explore what bread means to the people of the project and the city. To which you are all invited!
Our Bread Community Event
On Saturday, 11th March, 2-6 pm at Common Ground Community Centre, The SWE is hosting a community event celebrating bread in all its forms across the city’s different cultures. There will be food, baking demonstrations, talks, tasters of various heritage wheat grains, and the chance to get your hands on their very own Sheffield flour from the 2022 harvest!
They will have demos by a group of women and growers for SWE from Roshni (Roshni Sheffield Asian Women’s Resource Centre) on how to make flatbreads such as chappatis and stuffed parathas with pickles for tasters. They will be joined by Miranda Macdonald of I Said Bread, who has been working closely with the project to learn how the Sheffield Wheat flour behaves across various bakes. You can join Miranda in baking your own yeasted bubbly flatbread with the very Sheffield flour itself. Sophie Underdown Lester of Wild Combination will also allow attendees to play with the Sheffield flour. Drawing from harvest folklore and symbolic baking traditions everyone is invited to make a wheat guardian in biscuit form! Creating a new ritual and made with Sheffield wheat, the totems can be enjoyed on the day or returned to a wheat patch as an offering to the grain spirits!
Anyone attending can contribute towards the SWE bread-sharing table (though don’t feel limited to bread if you have more of a sweet tooth, all baked items are welcome). They would love to see an array of your favourite bakes! Be they family heirlooms, a new favourite that you’ve only just discovered, or a traditional bread baked by your community. These can be baked using whatever flour you usually use at home. If you would like to add to the table, they would also love to hear what this bake means to you. Perhaps there’s a specific memory or person you associate with it or some cultural relevance. If you could write these things down on a piece of paper, along with any additional ingredients (especially allergens) to display, it would be gratefully appreciated.
The event is free! And will take place at the Common Ground community centre in Netheredge (where some of the wheat is also growing!) on Saturday, 11th March, 2-6 pm. They are ticketing to two time slots to allow for more people to come through. So come along, eat and taste plenty of bakes with curry to accompany.
To register your ticket, go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/our-bread-tickets-558695743007